What is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition includes both the deficiency and excess (or imbalance) of energy, protein and other nutrients. In clinical practice, undernutrition, and inadequate intake of energy, protein and nutrients, is the focus. Undernutrition affects body tissues, functional ability and overall health. In hospitalized patients, undernutrition is often complicated by acute conditions (e.g. a trauma), infections and diseases that cause inflammation. Such complications worsen undernutrition and make it more challenging to correct due to extensive physiological changes and increased nutritional needs when appetite is decreased.

Adapted from AW McKinlay: Malnutrition: the spectre at the feast. J R Coll Physicians Edinb 2008:38317–21.


© 2017 Canadian Malnutrition Task Force